United Belize Advocacy Movement, UNIBAM, hosted representatives from several organizations at the Ramada Princess Hotel for a domestic law conference. The aim of the conference is to raise national knowledge of domestic law and participants got the opportunity to examine laws and how it impacts human rights. UNIBAM’s Executive Director, Caleb Orozco, gave us more details.
“The real work doesn’t start at a conference. It starts at the negotiating table. The real work starts long before the conference. It starts with legal research interventions that goes back several years. The real work is pushed forward when priorities are set and negotiated in the reform process and so that reform process has already been started with the hiring of a legal review consultant by the National AIDS Commission and in regards to then framing what amendments would take place is several months in the making. For us, really the next step is then looking at the summary document that was created from here and then making recommendations to be added to the summary that the legal consultant had drafted for the National response. After that then we go into discussion around drafting language and then deciding what stays and what goes in regards to some of our concerns we have as the citizens who are LGBT Belizeans.”
“Essentially what would you hold participants would take home after the two day workshop?”
“For us it is really for them to see the interconnectedness about how systemic marginalization impacts not just LGBT persons but for every citizen and for them to connect the dots in regards to how much more work we have to do in terms of setting accessible systems up that is accessible to all citizens of this country. We know for example that forty three percent of our people live in poverty but when it comes to civil rights violation, most of our people will accept those civil rights violations and so they will lodge a complaint to the media or they will make a complaint to the ombudsman office but there is no accountability in regards to redress of those experiences and so our work really focuses or zooms in on how do you build accessible systems that every citizen can get redress from.”
One of the participants, Eva Burgos, the Executive Director for GOBelize explained how the conference helps GOBelize carry out its objectives as a non-governmental organization.
“Go Belize is an organization that works with leadership capacity building and I think that being at this workshop gives us a different view let’s say the law with different lenses. It also gives us strategies with how to strengthen the capacity building that we do with especially youth service providers in order to ensure that the human rights, if we say we are really working with a person to entail or to ensure that human rights is critical to human rights and we are to know what laws contribute to that and what laws kind of hinders our development as a human being.”
Guest presenter was Leo Bradley Jr., President of the Human Rights Commission of Belize who explained that the workshop not only dealt with LGBT rights but humans rights in general.
LEO BRADLEY JR
“We were basically dealing with the rights of individuals as it relates in general because we had questions from across the board, persons dealing with elderly, persons dealing with sexual workers, there was a soldier in there, it was a wide cross section of society and basically the presentation was towards protecting the rights of individuals across the board.”
“How many cases of human rights violations is the commission dealing with on a yearly basis?”
LEO BRADLEY JR
“We see a wide cross section; l can think of for example workers in the banana industry, workers in the sugar industry. We also see a lot of persons who are not able to access different areas; it comes to mind persons who have been beaten by the police who have their rights infringed upon for example in hospitals; we do have a wide cross section throughout society and it is hard to put a number on it.”
The conference continues tomorrow.